Cherry: A Play-Based Preschool

Warren W. Cherry Preschool is a partial-day, not-for-profit, non-sectarian early childhood education program that is independent and parent-governed. Established by parents and early childhood educators seeking to create an independent institution that would meet the needs of the community’s young children, Cherry Preschool opened its doors in September of 1992. The school is named after Warren W. Cherry to honor the memory of an outstanding Evanston educator, community leader, and friend of young children. Cherry Preschool is located in a red brick building at 1418 Lake Street in Evanston, one half block east of Penny Park. The school is licensed by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and accredited by the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs.


Our Goal And How We Put It Into Practice

The mission of Warren W. Cherry Preschool is to provide a developmental early childhood program which offers a safe, consistent, nurturing environment that encourages the social, emotional, physical and intellectual growth of children. The unique personality, culture, needs, abilities and learning style of each child are accepted and appreciated as the staff and parents work together in the best interest of the children.

Philosophically, Cherry Preschool strives to:

  • Develop each child’s positive self image
  • Respect each child as a unique individual
  • Promote independent and creative thinking
  • Teach pro-social behavior
  • Provide developmentally appropriate, innovative preschool education in a stimulating and enriching play environment
  • Include children who have special needs
  • Celebrate diversity
  • Implement a curriculum through which children learn to value and accept differences
  • Create a sense of support and community for children and their families
  • Employ a highly qualified staff of dedicated early childhood educators
  • Offer parents the opportunity to be involved not only in the education of their children, but also in the operation and direction of the school

Cherry Preschool lives its values as an early childhood education program through our focus on:

We are a Community of Diverse Learners

Cherry Preschool is committed to providing an inclusive preschool environment where children of all abilities can develop the skills needed to succeed in school.  Our Inclusion Program is designed to support children with developmental differences and disabilities as they learn and grow alongside their classmates.  Learning in an inclusive environment enriches the lives of all children because it models acceptance, respect, and appreciation for individual differences.

Click here to learn more about our Inclusion Program for children with disabilities and developmental differences.

The Cherry Preschool Staff

Teachers are chosen on the basis of academic background and personal commitment to working with young children and their families. The staff is a stable, cohesive, and caring group of educators who are knowledgeable about how children grow, develop and learn and who reflect the values of Cherry Preschool. We consider the experience, quality, and dedication of our staff to be our greatest asset.

Understanding Diversity at Cherry Preschool

“You Can’t Say You Can’t Play” & “Be Fair”
We believe that a diverse school community in which children learn to value and respect themselves and others enriches all our lives. Our task as early childhood educators is to encourage young children to embrace differences. Our goal is for children to feel proud of themselves and their heritage, challenge bias or unfairness when they encounter it, and feel at home in our diverse world. At the preschool level, we do this by creating classroom environments that reflect the families in the group as well as in the greater community. In planning the curriculum and creating the classroom environment, teachers select materials to expose children to a variety of races, cultures, abilities, family structures, ages, and beliefs. We invite families to share their customs, holidays, and celebrations with us. Our approach to holidays is to connect them to the children’s daily lives, to learn about one another from one another, and to approach them in a developmentally appropriate way. For all of these reasons, we have adopted two basic all-school rules at Cherry Preschool. “You can’t say you can’t play” (from the book of the same name by Vivian Paley) helps all children to feel included, safe, and protected. “Be fair” helps all children to stand up for themselves and others to challenge bias and unfairness.

Scholarship Program

An important part of Cherry Preschool’s community outreach effort is to make the preschool accessible to all families regardless of their ability to pay. Cherry Preschool does everything in its power to support its families and keep in school all children who are part of the preschool community. Guidelines and applications for financial assistance are available in the preschool office and on our website. Decisions are made by the Director and Financial Manager and all requests for assistance are kept confidential.

Your Child’s Classroom At Cherry

As a developmental preschool, we believe that play-based early childhood education provides children many opportunities to interact with materials and construct knowledge about their world; increases vocabulary and language comprehension; helps children form better problem solving strategies; stimulates curiosity, imagination and greater innovation; helps children take the perspective of others, learn impulse control and empathy, build longer attention spans and have better social emotional skills. Cherry teachers plan open-ended, play-based activities and experiences to stimulate and challenge children to progress developmentally at their own individual rate. The curriculum explores topics of interest to children. One way teachers accomplish this is through the Project Approach, an in-depth study that employs investigation, observation, and hands-on experiences.

A typical day in the classroom involves, but is not limited to, the following activities:

block play • children’s literature • circle time • creative expression • dramatic play • experiential art •  fine motor activities • indoor gross motor play in our Cherrytown gym or outdoor play (at Penny Park for older children or our private play lot for younger children) • large group activities • manipulative toys • music & singing • painting and playdough • pre-literacy and pre-math activities • science exploration • socialization skills

Community Outreach

Cherry is committed to making a social impact in our community. We invite our families and outside local organizations to help us by referring families who would enrich our preschool by making our community even more diverse and representative of the greater Evanston area.